Edirne Escape

I’m in Edirne for another weekend. Over the past few weeks I’ve covered a few lessons for another teacher, so he paid me back by covering my Friday lessons and I took off for a long weekend away.

I came to Istanbul in early September. In early October I came to Edirne with my dad, and in early November I went to Bursa with my brother. In mid December I went to Konya. Now it’s almost mid February and I hadn’t gotten out of the city for nearly two months.

I love Istanbul, but it gets to me after a bit. Everything is always busy. There are always tons of people everywhere. Buses, shops, streets, cafes, bars, there are always too many people. Traffic is always busy, cars honk their horns all the time. I can’t sleep in my flat because either street musicians or the bars below make so much noise I can’t think straight. Everything is busy and stressful and I need to get out of it after a while. Georgia was the opposite for me. Kutaisi was so boring and there was nothing to do and I went stir crazy because of the boringness of it all. We joked that Kutaisi was eternal. Istanbul is the opposite, there’s always too much going on.

I get a bit stir crazy when I stick around in a place for a while too. I’ve been here for 5 months now, which is the longest I’ve been in a place for quite some time. It’s not new and exciting anymore, and I need to find ways to still love a place when the newness wears away, because I think I’d like to be here for at least another year. The weekends are usually the same. After work on Friday the teachers all get beer somewhere in Taksim, and we usually jump from bar to bar or some clubs until the wee hours of the morning. Try to do something productive on Saturday like read or write or visit a museum before another night out in Taksim. Sunday try to ready myself for another week at school.

I’m glad that I’m here and love going out with friends and there’s never a lack for things to do (this next week I’m going to see the Buzzcocks at a place two minutes from my flat) but the sameness of it all wears on me. It’s routine and routine gets me down. The routine and the constant rushing and business all get to me and I need to escape.

I’ve thought about doing a weekend when I go down to Sultanahmet and stay in a hostel and invent a story for myself and meet backpackers. That would definitely be an interesting way to shake things up. But even then I think it would probably still be the same. Chances are the people I’d meet would want to go out to the bars and clubs in Beyoglu, and that would just be silly. Besides, there’s only so much of Sultanahmet that I can handle, too. Too many tourists and everything’s arranged for tourists.

So I need to get out of the city. There’s something truly wonderful about getting on a bus to another city, getting out at the bus station, and finding your way into the city and finding a place to stay. Sleeping somewhere that you haven’t been before. I was thinking on the bus how much I’d like to just leave all of my things in my apartment, not go back to my job, and just start wandering with the things I had in my bag. Go into Greece for a while, go to Albania, maybe a few other places, that would be fun. I had my passport, computer, camera and a book in my bag, I don’t need anything else. If I could get on another bus every other day and just keep going to new cities and wandering around them drinking coffee and eating kebabs I would be quite pleased with myself.

I like Edirne. There really isn’t much to do here aside from going to a few mosques and museums and drinking coffee. Wandering around aimlessly. But that’s what I like doing so this is a great place for a weekend retreat. I found the cheapest hotel in the city, which still isn’t quite at hostel prices, but it’s not bad. Talk about a bare bones hotel! My room is a true Raskolnikov room. It’s probably about 2 meters by 2 meters, with a little table. No internet, the shower has to run about 3 minutes before anything warm comes out. I haven’t seen any other guests. It is a bit out of season, below freezing outside, and Edirne’s been in the news for the past week because the rivers have flooded because there are leaks in the Bulgarian dams. So there aren’t too many people here, which is nice.

Tomorrow I have to get the bus back to Istanbul. Another week at school. I think every university in Istanbul gets a week holiday in February as a semester break, but not us. We had been told we would get a holiday, but somewhere down the line someone decided it wouldn’t happen. We didn’t get any time off over Christmas or New Year’s, and no holiday in February. I had been planning on a trip down to Izmir and going to Bergama and Efes along the way. But that will have to wait. Unless the powers that be cancel this one as well, we should get a week’s holiday in April (most schools get two weeks), so I think I’ll do my Izmir trip then.

I look forward to getting on that bus to a new place.